There's no good way to say it: It hasn't been a good year for Denton music venues. The first closure of 2016 had come virtually before the year had even started, as Hailey's Club closed after one final night of business on New Years Eve. Then came Rubber Gloves, which closed at the beginning of June and may yet be left to developers. Now comes news that the basement of J&J's Pizza is not much longer for this world either.
The news was announced earlier this afternoon on J&J's Facebook page. "It is with great sadness and (more than a little) frustration, that the beloved basement venue is closing its doors," read the statement from J&J's. "Despite months of heated negotiations with the building’s owner, Jaime Ham (J&J’s owner) has lost access to the basement portion of J&J’s Pizza."
J&J's had been set to close the basement — affectionately known as the Old Dirty Basement — through the end of the year for renovations, after hosting one last show on August 13. Now that show will be its last.
"[Ham] fully intended to give the basement a major facelift, to better serve the Denton music scene," the Facebook statement said. "Despite these plans, the basement portion of the property is now scheduled to be turned into another business entirely, not associated with J&J’s Pizza."
Ham and his wife, Jessie, the longtime booker for J&J's basement shows, did not respond to initial requests for comment on this story.
While the news marks another loss for Denton's long-term music venue options, one high-profile event — next month's Oaktopia festival — will not be effected.
"We're using the upstairs," clarifies Oaktopia owner, Matt Battaglia. Those plans had been put in place once the plans for renovations were announced, but Battaglia adds that he's "heartbroken" that the Old Dirty Basement won't be able to return to the festival in 2017. "It does suck, though. That was one of my favorite venues."